There are a few questions you might ask yourself about the sex you’re having, so you can get an idea of the sex you want going forward.
What kind of sex are you having?
- What does the sex that you’re having normally involve?
- Do you notice yourself doing certain things in certain situations? Be honest with yourself. Recognize patterns in your decisions. For instance, do you end up forgetting about condoms more easily when you’re drinking? Do you have more sex when you’re stressed out? Do you forget to take your meds when you’re super busy, or super horny?
- How do you feel about the decisions you’re making? Do they line up with the sex you want in the long term?
Ask yourself about the strategies you’re using for your sexual health:
- What are the strategies available to you? Which ones do you use?
- How do you make decisions about what strategies to use?
- How do those decisions change depending on who you’re with or where you are?
- How do you feel about those decisions? Do they line up with the sex you want?
- Do you notice yourself feeling guilty or anxious the day after sex?
- Do you find that getting high or drunk ends ends up in different decisions than the ones you want to make, or would make if you hadn’t gotten as high or drunk?
What does sexual health look like for you?
- There are lots of things guys do to take care of their health when it comes to sex and reducing the chance of HIV/STI transmission.
- Strategies like PrEP, condoms, and undetectable viral load work really well in reducing HIV transmission, especially when you use a few or all of them at the same time.
- Some guys seek out other guys who say they do not have HIV as a way of reducing their risk for HIV while having condomless sex. However, a lot of HIV transmission happens when guys who have sex with guys who have not yet been diagnosed with HIV, are more recently infected, and have high viral loads. This kind of sorting is not as simple or reliable as it seems. Check out the page on sero-sorting to find out why.
- Topping and bottoming have different chances of HIV transmission. The person bottoming has a greater chance of acquiring HIV. Some guys may make choices about topping or bottoming the same way they make choices about PrEP, condoms, or viral load when you’re thinking about sexual health. You can read more about topping and bottoming here.
- Most strategies work best when you combine a few of them.
- Getting tested and treated for HIV and other STIs is the best way to keep an eye on your sexual health, though it shouldn’t be relied on as a way of preventing HIV transmission.
Thinking through these answers may give you a clearer answer about whether the sex you’re having is the sex you want, and what the difference is.
Life isn’t easy, especially not for gay guys and other men who have sex with men. There are lots of factors that can make us feel alone, like stress, anxiety, depression, body image, racism, violence, relationship issues, substance use… the list goes on. Dealing with this kind of stuff doesn’t have to be something you do on your own — there’s help out there.
Counselors, coaches, therapists, and other mental health practitioners can help you think through the problems going on in your life and offer you help to solve them. It can take some courage, but finding someone to talk to can help you get through difficult times and issues that don’t seem to go away.
So take care of yourself. Get support.
ConnexOntario operates three helplines that provide health services information for people experiencing problems with gambling, drugs or alcohol and mental illness. They can:
• provide contact information for services and supports in your community
• listen, offer support and provide strategies to help you meet your goals
• provide basic education about gambling, drug or alcohol and mental health problems
The Canadian Mental Health Association has 32 branches across Ontario providing community mental health services. Click here to find your local branch
Community based AIDS Service Organizations provide a safe space for gay men to connect. They can also be very helpful at providing referrals to a variety of community support services. Everything from mental health and substance use to housing and income support. Visit our finding local services page to find your local organization.